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  • Jennifer Rubio

Things Your Copy Editor Thinks About (so you don't have to)

I talked in a previous post about how you deserve a copy editor who will make your work the best it can be. But a copy editor doesn't just polish up your writing. She also thinks about all the little things that you don't have the time to deal with. Consider your copy editor your details manager. A good copy editor isn't just looking at whether you spelled words right. She's thinking about all of these questions, and more:

  • In these bolded introductory phrases, the colon is only bolded half the time. Should it be bolded all the time, or none of it?

  • This sentence goes on for seven lines. Where's the most logical place to break it up?

  • Can I find a more active verb to use in this sentence?

  • Figures 1, 3, and 4 are called out in the text of this report, but Figure 2 isn't. Where should I insert the call-out?

  • You moved this paragraph from an earlier draft, but you didn't switch the order of the footnotes. (I'll take care of it for you.)

  • You capitalized Project Manager on page 3 but not page 4. Which should it be: up or down?

  • That's the second sentence in a row starting with "He also..." How can I vary it up?

  • Did you forget a comma here, or are these two items supposed to be read as a unit? (Better Google that!)

  • Are all the numbers in this list in order? Is the spacing between the number and the text consistent, even when the numbers top 10 or 100?

  • You've started seven of these nine bullets with gerunds ("-ing" verbs). Can I change the remaining two so the list is consistent?

  • Is this a persistent mistake that I should fix? Or do you want me to ignore the style rule and leave it as-is in all cases?

  • The stylebook prescribes one way of writing this, but the other way improves readability. On which side should I err?

  • How do I make this piece clearer and more direct?

  • How do I eliminate this redundancy and make sure the flow of your paragraphs is still intact?

  • Is all the punctuation in your footnotes consistent?

  • Didn't you introduce this abbreviation already on page 17?

  • What have I missed?

That's a lot to keep in mind, and there's plenty more where that came from. All important details, but things you just don't have the time to deal with. That's okay -- that's my job, and I've been doing it for 13 years. Hire an experienced, expert copy editor to take care of all the details, so you can keep your eye on the bigger picture.

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